Constitutional Amendment 3
Encourages the conservation, sustainability, and longevity of Georgia's working forests through tax subclassification and grants.
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?”
What voting “yes” or “no” means:
Voting “yes” means the state, not individual counties, would determine the value of conserved forest land.
Voting “no” means each county in Georgia would continue to value conserved forest land on its own.
This proposal revises provisions subclassifying forest land conservation use property for ad valorem taxation purposes. It revises the methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants. The proposal also permits the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes.
Forest land is difficult to appraise using standard appraisal methods. To promote uniformity in Georgia’s 159 counties, the authority of the Department of Revenue, which presently determines the value of forest lands for conservation, would be modified. This Amendment changes which lands can go into conservation agreements, and slightly modifies how the value is calculated.
The properties affected would be forest land conservation use properties of at least 200 acres in aggregate which lie in one or more counties in parcels of at least 100 acres within any given county, and would decrease the required time of a conservation use covenant from 15 to 10 years. From 2019 through 2023, the Amendment allows the value of the county assistance grants to be increased by general law beyond the amount of revenue needed to offset revenue losses stemming from forest land being included in the conservation use. The 2008 base year used for determining the forest land fair market value is updated to a 2016 base year, and the base year will change in 2019 and every three years thereafter. The General Assembly may provide for a fee of up to five percent to be retained by the revenue commissioner to offset the costs to administer the program.
The Amendment would also establish a new class of property to be known as "qualified timberland property," which is defined as tangible real property with a primary use for the production of trees to produce timber for commercial uses. The value of qualified timberland property shall be at least 175 percent of such property's forest land conservation use value.
The Amendment also establishes a separate system to appeal appraisals and determinations related to qualified timberland property.
How did the General Assembly (state legislature) vote on this?